19 Apr 2022 – The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre was delighted to welcome guests for its annual iftar (breaking of the fast), this year with the theme ‘Supporting Refugees: A Divine Call’.

The chair for the evening was ELM trustee Harun Rashid Khan, who introduced one of guest reciters of the Qur’an for Ramadan, Shaykh Mohamed Ben Sedira. He gave a beautiful recitation of the verses in the second chapter that detail Allah’s commandment to fast during Ramadan.

Following a brief overview of the ELM & LMC by our Director, Dilowar Hussain Khan, our member and former trustee, Shafiur Rahman, Executive Director of the Usmani Trust, explained ‘What Islam Says About Supporting Refugees’:

Migrating as strangers to strange lands and finding refuge is a recurring story amongst the shared Abrahamic faiths.

Those who find it within themselves to come forward and sacrifice something of their own wealth, of their own time, as many do, it is in that act of generosity; and in that act of humanity, each and every one of us will find God.

Reverend Alan Green, Rector of Saint John on Bethnal Green, and Chair of Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, spoke on the topic ‘Unite with Refugees’:

Responding to the refugees is a religious duty of care and love.

It is our duty – and it is part of our culture, our history and our combined Abrahamic faiths – that we respond to refugees and count them as our neighbour

Leon Silver, President of Nelson Street Synagogue, drew attention to ‘Commonality amongst refugees’:

We are to a great extent a community descended from refugees.

We should be aware today what we all have in common, and we all have the same God, and we have the same wishes for a good decent and peaceful life.

Phil Warburton, Tower Hamlets Community Organiser for TELCO, had this advice for a community response to supporting refugees:

To get to the world as it is to the world as it should be we actually need to work together and be powerful together.

We need to pray and organise together for a different better world.

Sufia Alam, Head of Programmes & Maryam Centre here at the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre, talked about efforts to serve the refugee community:

We had seen a really desperate situation where [refugee] adults didn’t have shoes on their feet, and children were really desperate.

We bought so many shoes… they were so much in demand. It doesn’t stop here, there is so much more to do.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, recalled our historic local characteristics:

The East End has always been fantastically good at receiving, absorbing, supporting, caring for migrants.

We are defined by a whole mixture of people who came to the East End from different parts of the world.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, described the wider context:

I want to remind everybody of the challenge we face: we have over 82 million refugees around the world… and have to work together with Government, and challenge the Government to tackle this crisis.